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Tritium Enrichment in the Hydration Sphere of Humic Substances

Birgit Wierczinski, Günther Müllen, Andreas Türler

Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 48 / Number 1 / July/August 2005 / Pages 783-786

Technical Paper / Tritium Science and Technology - Biology, Health, and Radiation /

Humic and fulvic acid can be combined under the term 'humic substances' and are natural substances with a complex structure. The structural details are not known, however, due to the functional groups present in these compounds the formation of hydrogen bonds is easily attained. Several humic substances were investigated for their potential use as compounds, which are applicable for tritium enrichment from aqueous solution. For comparison a simple compound, malonic acid, representing only few functional groups was investigated. The experiments were performed using a cryosublimation apparatus, which was run well below equilibrium vapor pressure to avoid any isotope fractionation of HTO and H2O. A higher enrichment factor was found for natural humic acid compared to fulvic acid, however, no enrichment could be found for a synthetic humic acid and malonic acid. Interpretation of the results is difficult since no detailed information on the chemical structure of humic substances is known.

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